Perashat Hachodesh

Update yourself through renewal and by slaughtering your old gods
Update yourself through renewal and by slaughtering your old gods

In Perashat Hachodesh and during Passover we often discuss the passover Sacrifice that we used to do in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It says: in   Shmot – 12- 21:

Draw out, and take you lambs according to your families, and kill the passover lamb.

The following illustrates a growth  experience. As you grow in life you find that you need to abandon previous beliefs. These might be your own beliefs or those of your parents, or maybe just a small developmental step which involves your personal renewal.

…On the tenth of the month’ Rabbi Yochanan says the Passover Sacrifice is only good when owned by the individual and you say take it on the tenth? Instead this teaches us that the Jews tied the sheep to their bed posts on the tenth and the Egyptians would enter and see this scene and they would die from the site. Rabbi Chiya the son Rabbi Ada from Jaffa says extend and take for yourselves sheep for each family and slaughter the sacrifice this teaches us that each one would take the Egyptian G-d and slaughter it in front if the Egyptians…

Sometimes it is good to make a public statement for what you believe in. When you see something which is wrong you should stand up against it. This applies even if the terrible thing is a powerful belief.

A nice illustration of this concept is a common story. Many Jewish parents feel that Judaism at best takes a secondary role in our lives. They believe that the modern world has much more to offer than Torah. They do not realize that a good Jewish education is superior to any public school education.

Very often a child rebels against his parents and goes away to Israel to study in a Yeshiva. Such children have not accepted their parents beliefs.

The parents feeling of rejection can be so devastating that they feel as if they are going to die. They see no difference between Torah Judaism and the Moonies.

These children have in essence slaughtered the gods of the Western world. They have declared themselves free.

The Month of Nissan is a new beginning. Let us be free during this month of freedom.


Tazriah – Why Should I Suffer?

Tazriah – Why Should I Suffer?

When I was a very young child my cousin, who was only a bit younger than me, was run over by a school bus and killed. He was a young, innocent child whose entire sin was to chase after his hat that had blown away. He was my pal. We had a mutual imaginary friend who we played with. Since we are Kohanim it could not have even been entertained whether I would attend the funeral. For a while I was plagued with nightmares of his coming back to life.

Some said that such sufferings happen because of Chilul Shabbat – desecrating the Shabbat. This tidbit of information came from the more religiously observant people in the family and learned people who were  always around. This, of course, frightened my young mind because we were not very observant ourselves.

Our Perasha discusses the laws of Leprosy. There are three different types of Leprosy. The first type is a terrible skin disorder. A person suffering from Leprosy is thrown out of town and must live in the
wilderness with criminals and social misfits. (see Four Lepers) The second type of Leprosy attacks a person’s clothing. The article is burned. The final type of Leprosy attacks one’s house. The house might be destroyed.

Our Rabbis of Blessed Memory have taught us:

The Holy One Blessed be He finds it difficult to raise his hands
against a man. First he gives man a warning by damaging his house with a leprous growth. If the man repents it is nice otherwise G-d then damages his clothing. If the man repents it is nice otherwise G-d damages his skin. (Tanchuma Yashan – Tazriah 14)

However, It often happens that a person who seems to be righteous is “damaged” by G-d. Additionally, many very nasty people seem to live carefree lives.

Divine laws of justice might have had me crushed under the wheels of a school bus and my cousin philosophizing about it.

The question of justice in the world and of  “Why Do Bad Things happen to Good People?” is at least as ancient as Judaism itself.

The Book of Iyov is very long and primarily discusses this subject: Iyov was a very wealthy man with children and flocks and all that. He was a very righteous person. Despite his righteousness G-d allowed The Persecutor to take away his wealth, kill his sons and to give him leprosy. In his suffering he considered his past actions to be completely righteous. Therefore, G-d had no reason to punish him. He questioned whether there was justice behind G-d’s actions.

Vayakhel – Creativity in Judaism

Vayakhel – Creativity in Judaism

Imagine if a physicist had Ruach Hakodesh and could design a truly safe Nuclear Power plant.

How does this relate to ordinary creativity? What really is creativity? and how does a person become creative? These question have been asked for centuries.

In Our Perasha it says (Shemot 36 – 1)

And Betzalel, Aholiav and each person of thoughtful heart to whom G-d  gave wisdom and insight to know and do all holy work, they did everything which G-d commanded.


Perhaps a discussion about these talented craftsmen can give us some insight into the nature of creativity.

Psychologists have discussed whether the “Aha” syndrome exists? The “Aha” syndrome is a sudden zap of creative energy which enables a person to immediately and sometimes miraculously understand something. (Creativity: Genius and other myths, Robert Weisberg) Perhaps the “Aha” syndrome is the wisdom which G-d gave Betzalel.

Rashi, in his explanation for Perashat Ki Tisa, explains the following Pasuk (Shemot 31 -3):

I will fill him with the spirit of G-d, with wisdom, insight and knowledge of every craft to think thought to make with gold, silver and brass.

Rashi says that wisdom refers to knowledge which is learned from others. Insight (tvunah) refers to developing something new from something that was already known. Knowledge, however, refers to Ruach Hakodesh which is, perhaps, wisdom that is G-d given. It says in our Pasuk (36-1) that G-d gave knowledge to those thoughtful people.

Here we see three different types of “knowledge.” The second type refers to what we call creativity. The last type which Rashi called Wisdom comes from G-d and is far better than ordinary creative energy.

We can understand the answer to our question according to Rashi.

Creativity combines previous knowledge
Creativity combines previous knowledge

A creative burst of energy which may be experienced by a Scientist is certainly the second type. This creative burst is the combining of all that he has previously learned. It all comes together to make a major discovery.

The Mishkan
The Mishkan

According to Ibn Ezra,  Betzalel and Aholiav were the greatest craftsmen of their day. These artisans used what was then state of the art methods to build the Mishkan. They used their knowledge to improve the different methods used to construct it.

The “knowledge” which Rashi refers to was what they learned from G-d  himself about how things must look and how they should be done. Knowledge from G-d through Ruach Hakodesh is certainly superior to the shortcoming of even the greatest Human mind.

G-d made the Sun which is a huge Nuclear power plant. He could choose to impart this knowledge on to the new “Artisans.”

Perashat Tetzaveh – Pleasant Ways of The Torah


Perashat Tetzaveh

What is the best Torah lesson that we can teach our children? The Pasuk in Mishle says it best Deracheha Darke Noam Vekol Netivoteha Shalom – Her ways are pleasant ways and all of her paths are peace.

Following mitzvot and learning Torah add breadth to a person’s life. You get insight into human nature, how to live a peaceful life, and to come close to G-d. These are certainly great things to teach children. When they are ingrained into a person’s life he will follow the “Pleasant ways.” It is important to instill this into children instead of some of the other messages which are prevalent in America.

Our Perasha starts off by telling us:

And now you command The children of Israel to bring to you pressed olive oil perfect for light, to bring the constant light.

And now you command The children of Israel to bring to you pressed olive oil perfect for light, to bring the constant light
And now you command The children of Israel to bring to you pressed olive oil perfect for light, to bring the constant light

This Mitzvah of lighting the Menorah is placed here between the mitzvah of how to build the Mishkan and what the Kohen should wear when he works in the Mishkan. This is placed here to tell us that in reality the main function of the Kohen is to teach the “Pleasant ways of G-d” to the people.

We know this from another Pasuk in Mishle: Ki Ner Mitzvah Vetorah Or – Because a mitvzah is a candle and the Torah is light. The Torah is like light and oil. It is like light because it enlightens people. That is clear.

Why is it like olive oil? Why not like other light sources? The Midrashim (and Philo) say that Other oils do not give off a clear light. Either they flicker or are to bright. If you watch the olive oil burn in an oil candle you will see that it is more pleasant than other oils. I have seen this on Chanukah. The light is not harsh.

Equality in the Law – Mishpatim

Mishpatim – Equality in the Law

Today we live in a society based on the motto, “All men are created equal”, We accept this concept as our motto and we have many laws to back it up. This concept is clearly addressed by the Torah in the statement, “Do not lean the law against the pauper in his litigation”.

Tilted Scale of Injustice
Tilted Scale of Injustice

Thousands of years ago when we received the Torah this statement was very revolutionary, since rights were always unquestionably in the hands of the wealthy, whether they were land owners, slave owners, or wealthy business men (all of these have verses commanding proper ways of dealing with them).